New public lecture series launches at Mt. A

A diverse group of students, faculty, and other community members gathered in the Library theatre to listen to Janine Rogers, associate professor of English literature, deliver a presentation on her recent research.

The September 18 event marked the launch of the Feed your Brain public lecture series. The series aims to provide an informal venue for faculty who recently completed sabbaticals to discuss their research. 

While few were eating at Wednesday’s event, attendees were encouraged to bring food to the ‘lunch-and-learn’-style event. The organizers offered coffee, tea, and other refreshments.

Karen Grant, Mount Allison University’s provost and vice-president academic and research, explained that in the past Mt. A held events called ‘research and creative activities days’ at the end of August for faculty to present their work. A University senate committee tasked with looking at research and creative activities found that many people were not satisfied with those events, in large part due to the timing and the limited audience.

Grant also pointed out that while departments across the university hold their own colloquia, there was a lack of frequent, widely disseminated, inter-disciplinary lectures.   

After contacting faculty who recently completed sabbaticals, Grant found there was a lot of interest in the format, and presentation spaces filled quickly.

“When I put out the call, the slate was filled within thirty-six hours,” said Grant. 

Rogers’ wide-ranging talk, “The World as Book in Science Museums and Popular Science,” offered fascinating insight into how the world is presented scientifically, drawing connections from contemporary popular science to medieval literature. She spent her recent sabbatical in Sackville and Oxford, UK. 

Rogers was very grateful for the opportunity. She explained that when professors discuss their work outside the classroom it is generally in a conference setting, which offers a much shorter time frame.

“Even on a relatively small project, if you do a conference version of it, you’re just [presenting] a subsection of a subsection,” said Rogers. 

“[The series] really gave me an opportunity to look at all these various little slivers that I had been work shopping in conferences, and say okay, how do these all begin to come together,” said Rogers.

Rogers was also pleased with the diverse attendance and the stimulating discussion that followed her talk.

“It was cool that [attendees] felt able to contribute something, that the talk was wide ranging enough that people from wide ranging backgrounds have something to offer,” she said.

Grant emphasized that the series also aims to open the doors of the university to the wider community.

“We should try to facilitate dialogue between the university and the communities of which it’s a part,” said Grant. 

Rogers concurred: “That’s really what we need to do; we need to build a community of research that involves students and faculty, and people from outside the university community. And I think that’s the best form of intellectual activity that we can be engaging in.”

The “Feed your Brain” lectures will continue monthly throughout the year, alternating between Wednesdays and Tuesdays at lunchtime. Next month Michael Fox, of the Geography and Environment department, will be delivering a lecture very pertinent to the objectives of the series titled, “Sleeping with an Elephant: Can Sackville become a Learning Community?”

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